On Orthogonal Symmetric Chain Decompositions

  • Karl Däubel
  • Sven Jäger
  • Torsten Mütze
  • Manfred Scheucher


The $n$-cube is the poset obtained by ordering all subsets of $\{1,\ldots,n\}$ by inclusion, and it can be partitioned into $\binom{n}{\lfloor n/2\rfloor}$ chains, which is the minimum possible number. Two such decompositions of the $n$-cube are called orthogonal if any two chains of the decompositions share at most a single element. Shearer and Kleitman conjectured in 1979 that the $n$-cube has $\lfloor n/2\rfloor+1$ pairwise orthogonal decompositions into the minimum number of chains, and they constructed two such decompositions. Spink recently improved this by showing that the $n$-cube has three pairwise orthogonal chain decompositions for $n\geq 24$. In this paper, we construct four pairwise orthogonal chain decompositions of the $n$-cube for $n\geq 60$. We also construct five pairwise edge-disjoint symmetric chain decompositions of the $n$-cube for $n\geq 90$, where edge-disjointness is a slightly weaker notion than orthogonality, improving on a recent result by Gregor, Jäger, Mütze, Sawada, and Wille.


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